Lady Vols turn over Auburn, 83-61

Effort plays big role in SEC win

Auburn's Hasina Muhammad and Tennessee's Meighan Simmons chase after a loose ball at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday, February 21, 2013. 
  
 (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Photo by Saul Young, 2013 Knoxville News Sentinel

Auburn's Hasina Muhammad and Tennessee's Meighan Simmons chase after a loose ball at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday, February 21, 2013. (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Holly Warlick happy with defense

Saul Young/News Sentinel
Tennessee’s Cierra Burdick collides with Auburn’s Hasina Muhammad as the two battle for a rebound at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday.

Photo by Saul Young, 2013 Knoxville News Sentinel

Saul Young/News Sentinel Tennessee’s Cierra Burdick collides with Auburn’s Hasina Muhammad as the two battle for a rebound at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday.

Tennessee watched an instructional video this week of how not to play against Auburn.

The Lady Vols likely were squirming in the seats during the viewing. After all, they were the stars of the show.

They took the Thompson-Boling Arena court for Thursday night’s rematch as if they compiled a checklist of how not to repeat their performance. They marked off all the essentials, finishing with an 83-61 SEC women’s basketball victory.

Before a crowd of 10,806, Meighan Simmons led five double-figure scorers for No. 11 Tennessee (21-5, 12-1 SEC) with 24 points.

Tyrese Tanner topped Auburn (14-12, 3-10) with 20 points.

The biggest difference between the victory and the Lady Vols’ 75-66 comeback win in the first meeting on Jan. 17 at Auburn, Ala., was a fast start.

“The energy that we had, that dictates the score,” UT’s Cierra Burdick said. “I mean if we come out positive and energetic and just fired up, you’re going to see that on the court.”

Tennessee bolted to a 33-7 lead as its defense kept pace with the offense for a change. The Lady Vols helped Auburn get started on its 20 turnovers. They also got to work on season highs for assists (24) and 3-pointers (nine).

The opening reflected a difference in personnel that was evident throughout the game.

Auburn was playing without starting point guard Najat Ouardad. The SEC’s leader in assists, who had eight in the first game against Tennessee, was out with an ankle injury.

Without her, Auburn committed five turnovers inside the first five minutes. Point guard stand-in Hasina Muhammad was charged with three. Two of them were steals by Simmons, who finished with a career-high five.

“We didn’t look very controlled,” Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We looked panicked a little bit.”

While Auburn was missing its floor general, Tennessee was benefiting from Burdick. She missed the first meeting with a fractured right hand. The sophomore forward was instrumental in the Lady Vols reversing their rebounding struggles against the Tigers, who previously had outscored them in second-chance points, 16-5.

Burdick’s career-high 13 rebounds led UT’s 44-30 advantage. She also scored 15 points, recording her third double-double of the season and her first since missing eight games with the injury.

“Yes, I finally can smile after the game,” she said. “It’s kind of like a sigh of relief. I finally just came out and played the way I feel like I’m capable of playing.”

While UT was unable to sustain its defensive start, the offense saw the outcome through to the finish.

Point guard Ariel Massengale completed her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 assists.

Simmons and Taber Spani had four 3-pointers apiece. Spani shot 6-for-10 from the floor in scoring 16 points.

Tennessee’s other double-figure scorer was Bashaara Graves, who had 14 points. The freshman forward also recorded nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.

The Lady Vols survived 11 second-half turnovers to lead by as many as 31 points with 3:40 left. More importantly, the team that trailed by 12 points with 14:29 left on Jan. 17 never trailed in the rematch.

“Best team effort we have had in a very long time, if not the best,” UT coach Holly Warlick said.

The only real damper was freshman Jasmine Jones missing the second half with an undisclosed injury. She left before halftime after being hit in the face.

“From what I understand, she just got her nose hit and it was a precaution,” Warlick said. “I think she’ll be fine, but I’m sure they’ll evaluate her.”

Dan Fleser covers Tennessee women’s basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/FleserKNS and http;//blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser.

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Comments » 29

jt45 writes:

Good win with a great start, I hope the passing gets cleaned up before the UK game. It seemed like Graves was having a rough night for 3/4 of the game. Good to see Burdick playing more like she was before the injury. Whats up with these officials lately, they were missing alot of easy calls tonight.

jt45 writes:

in response to jt45:

Good win with a great start, I hope the passing gets cleaned up before the UK game. It seemed like Graves was having a rough night for 3/4 of the game. Good to see Burdick playing more like she was before the injury. Whats up with these officials lately, they were missing alot of easy calls tonight.

Also glad to see Simmons playing some very good defense to go with her offense.

movol53 writes:

I hope JJ is all right. Getting hit in the face could be a broken nose(?); those are painful.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Graves wears her frustration on her face. Young lady it's not easy but keep working to have the game you are capable of and you will. I wish Izzy was healthy and there to help. Ladies take it one game at a time and then one good possession at a time and good things will happen.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

I'm glad you guys got to see it. All I could get was the telecast through U T media.........and first half was fine. Then, it just froze up the last 8 or 9 minutes and I never saw it anymore.

Anyway, it was so easy for the 26 point lead, then it seemed to be taking the foot off the gas after that. Simmons and Spani were on fire that first half.........then things got away from them a bit. The one girl hitting those 3's for Auburn looked a tad familiar. Good thing it wasn't a close game. Still, the Lady Vols to date are the class of the league, and barring a stumble, the finale up in Lexington should be a real tussle.

Is Izzy about to see any action soon? We'll need her.

Volinflan writes:

We had "froze up" problems here also. Missed almost the whole game. Checking the stats, I was surprised that most of the minutes went to the starting five (Williams 22 min). I would have thought this was a good game (maybe the last) to let Moore and Phillips get some extended minutes. Hope JJ's OK.

Listening to the Post Game Show just blows my mind about Cierra. That Girl is so smooth on the media. She's got a lot of future and it probably won't be dunking basketballs.

SoddyVol writes:

Glad to see Ariel have a great game. 10 AST with just 2 TOs. JJ getting hit in the face kept her minutes down. I was expecting her to get a lot more needed experience.

lstbodeanvol writes:

GREAT GAME GO LADY VOLS !!!!!!!!

underthehill writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

I'm glad you guys got to see it. All I could get was the telecast through U T media.........and first half was fine. Then, it just froze up the last 8 or 9 minutes and I never saw it anymore.

Anyway, it was so easy for the 26 point lead, then it seemed to be taking the foot off the gas after that. Simmons and Spani were on fire that first half.........then things got away from them a bit. The one girl hitting those 3's for Auburn looked a tad familiar. Good thing it wasn't a close game. Still, the Lady Vols to date are the class of the league, and barring a stumble, the finale up in Lexington should be a real tussle.

Is Izzy about to see any action soon? We'll need her.

When it freezes up..I go out of the site and go back in..it comes up just fine..don't know why but I have done this every time I watch thru utsports.com..

underthehill writes:

in response to Volinflan:

We had "froze up" problems here also. Missed almost the whole game. Checking the stats, I was surprised that most of the minutes went to the starting five (Williams 22 min). I would have thought this was a good game (maybe the last) to let Moore and Phillips get some extended minutes. Hope JJ's OK.

Listening to the Post Game Show just blows my mind about Cierra. That Girl is so smooth on the media. She's got a lot of future and it probably won't be dunking basketballs.

I have had froze up problems on every utsports.com telecast..as I said in another reply..I go out of the site and back in..it then works fine..

underthehill writes:

Rebounding will be a challenge in the A & M game..good to see Burdick ready to help..

RLL59 writes:

Career game on defense for Meighan. She made every move for a purpose and stopped penetration by whomever she was guarding.

Ariel was a bit more patient on defense as well.

Liked the way the whole team seemed to concentrate on the defensive end. Just a few open threes when the Lady Vol defense would sag into the middle on passes or drives into the lane.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to Volinflan:

We had "froze up" problems here also. Missed almost the whole game. Checking the stats, I was surprised that most of the minutes went to the starting five (Williams 22 min). I would have thought this was a good game (maybe the last) to let Moore and Phillips get some extended minutes. Hope JJ's OK.

Listening to the Post Game Show just blows my mind about Cierra. That Girl is so smooth on the media. She's got a lot of future and it probably won't be dunking basketballs.

I was watching on my laptop too and about the nine minute mark it froze. I refreshed the page and it was fine.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Good win for the lady Vols. Very much improved.

PureOrange writes:

Really like this team, but I am very concerned about the poor passing at times. We show we can be very good at passing most of the time, but then we lapse into half-hearted passes which are disturbing. If we would tighten up on our passes, we can be very good.

KennyGVolsFan writes:

WOW!!! I was amazed by the first half defense! Simmons stepped up and played both sides of the ball tremendously well! It's nice to see her finally take some ownership on both ends of the court.

Simmons, Massengale and Williams played defense on the point like mad crazy!! I was very impressed with the first half defense.

I was a little annoyed with Spani's three point defense. You would think that Spani could play some D on 3 pt shooters but she didn't do well in that area.

Offense in the first half was clicking. It was nice seeing the ball move across the floor and finding the open shot. The ball movement was almost flawless in the first 5 minutes.

I was glad to see Nia and Phillips get some minutes. You could tell Phillips really wanted to score. She was sloppy and turned the ball over every time it went to her. She can make an impact if she slows down, sees the floor and makes the right decisions. I would like to see Nia use the backboard, that's what its there for!!! She missed some free points by not using it.

Overall I was very impressed with our starters and ball movement in the first half. The second half they did some good things but made some terrible passes. We can't do those things against the teams we have coming up.

Arkansas is a good team. If we aren't careful we could lose it. I am really concerned about the A&M game and the Kentucky game.

A&M has very solid post players and there guards are decent. Kentucky's defense is scary good. We had quite a few unforced turnovers in this game. If we don't fix that now we could have a very very very high turnover rate against Kentucky. However, I think we are overall a better team than Kentucky. The only offence Kentucky has is Mathies. We will need JJ for that game for sure!!

COME ON LADIES LETS FINISH THE SEASON 3-0 and be the regular season CHAMPS!!! PROVE THEM WRONG!!!!

kazoo writes:

This is a good team--and will be even better when Izzy returns. We roll over most opponents, but our half-court offense and perimeter defense ultimately will decide the ncaa fate of this team. It's nice that Simmons played better defense last night--but I fear that her, Massengale and Spani simply aren't good enough defensively, aren't tough enough defensively to win a big game. I couldn't get over how absurdly bad they were against notre dame.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Volinflan:

We had "froze up" problems here also. Missed almost the whole game. Checking the stats, I was surprised that most of the minutes went to the starting five (Williams 22 min). I would have thought this was a good game (maybe the last) to let Moore and Phillips get some extended minutes. Hope JJ's OK.

Listening to the Post Game Show just blows my mind about Cierra. That Girl is so smooth on the media. She's got a lot of future and it probably won't be dunking basketballs.

Somewhat surprised to hear that from you and OCV. I was able to see the whole game on utsports.com, and I have often had problems with online streams. I couldn't really see what happened to JJ, but she may have bumped her nose on somebody's head. Painful but hopefully not serious.

Moore and Phillips played about 10 minutes or so each, though neither particularly distinguished herself. The LVs were generally a bit sloppy at the end with most of the starters on the bench.

I think I have heard that Cierra is a broadcast major. I agree that she has a promising future in that career. She is also smart and charismatic enough to be a great coach if she decides to go that way. She had a great game last night and I was very happy for her.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to SoddyVol:

Glad to see Ariel have a great game. 10 AST with just 2 TOs. JJ getting hit in the face kept her minutes down. I was expecting her to get a lot more needed experience.

I was a little surprised at Ariel's 10 assists and only two turnovers. I thought she had more than two TOs, but it just may have been because those two were SO bad. One was a behind-the-back pass in traffic trying to go between two defenders. Another one was to a player I couldn't even see in the picture.

This team just absolutely MUST learn to value the ball more. When you are up by 20, you don't HAVE to score on ANY play, so you might as well try to do it right. When you are in a dogfight, you have to have every point you can get, so you can't afford to WASTE possessions. Habit, habit, habit! Good ones give you a chance to beat anybody; bad ones can kill you against anybody.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

I have had froze up problems on every utsports.com telecast..as I said in another reply..I go out of the site and back in..it then works fine..

As I said, I didn't have that problem with this game though I have had them in the past. I'll try what you said the next time the problem arises.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RLL59:

Career game on defense for Meighan. She made every move for a purpose and stopped penetration by whomever she was guarding.

Ariel was a bit more patient on defense as well.

Liked the way the whole team seemed to concentrate on the defensive end. Just a few open threes when the Lady Vol defense would sag into the middle on passes or drives into the lane.

I think you're right. Meighan came out SWARMING. The defense was generally pretty good against the ball-handlers for a change and pretty much kept Auburn's bigs--and some of them looked REALLY big--under control. The defense against the outside shooters looked worse because Auburn seemed to make most of their open looks. They do have some pretty good shooters, but without their starting PG, their ball-handling killed them.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to KennyGVolsFan:

WOW!!! I was amazed by the first half defense! Simmons stepped up and played both sides of the ball tremendously well! It's nice to see her finally take some ownership on both ends of the court.

Simmons, Massengale and Williams played defense on the point like mad crazy!! I was very impressed with the first half defense.

I was a little annoyed with Spani's three point defense. You would think that Spani could play some D on 3 pt shooters but she didn't do well in that area.

Offense in the first half was clicking. It was nice seeing the ball move across the floor and finding the open shot. The ball movement was almost flawless in the first 5 minutes.

I was glad to see Nia and Phillips get some minutes. You could tell Phillips really wanted to score. She was sloppy and turned the ball over every time it went to her. She can make an impact if she slows down, sees the floor and makes the right decisions. I would like to see Nia use the backboard, that's what its there for!!! She missed some free points by not using it.

Overall I was very impressed with our starters and ball movement in the first half. The second half they did some good things but made some terrible passes. We can't do those things against the teams we have coming up.

Arkansas is a good team. If we aren't careful we could lose it. I am really concerned about the A&M game and the Kentucky game.

A&M has very solid post players and there guards are decent. Kentucky's defense is scary good. We had quite a few unforced turnovers in this game. If we don't fix that now we could have a very very very high turnover rate against Kentucky. However, I think we are overall a better team than Kentucky. The only offence Kentucky has is Mathies. We will need JJ for that game for sure!!

COME ON LADIES LETS FINISH THE SEASON 3-0 and be the regular season CHAMPS!!! PROVE THEM WRONG!!!!

Mostly agree with all these comments. I might give Spani a little bit of a break in that she was defending the post a good part of the time and Auburn looked like they had some pretty big girls inside, so Spani couldn't afford to go too far outside. When she is defending out on the perimeter, she isn't quick enough to play tight defense, so she does give up a few open looks out there. I think the plan was to harass the ball-handlers and otherwise keep the ball out of the middle and dare Auburn to make them from outside. They did hit some from outside but the rest of the defensive plan seemed to work pretty well.

madrigal writes:

Sounds like Cierra is all the way back and that's a good thing. Hope JJ is okay, and did I hear that Izzy practiced with the team the other day? Seems awfully early for that. It would be nice to have her back, but not at the expense of ruining next season.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Would love to have Izzy back . Her presence in the paint is needed to alter and deter some of these players getting easy putbacks. She is a true shotblocker. If she comes back before the SEC tourney I would be glad if she could only play defense and if her shooting touch is there? Wow that would be great! I was a little annoyed about the fact we let up a little on defence last night. Yes we were up by 20 most of the game but good teams can recover and we should have built on our lead . There was a time in the first half where we were not getting stops and mo timeouts were called. In this league its not about not trying to blowout opponents but its about not letting them back in the game. I don't know .. just looking at future opponents and it won't be that easy against them. I think if our girls are ON offensively and don't play scared they can compete with anyone in the country. Beat the Hogettes! Should be a easy win. They got smoked by the Dawgettes

RLL59 writes:

in response to kazoo:

This is a good team--and will be even better when Izzy returns. We roll over most opponents, but our half-court offense and perimeter defense ultimately will decide the ncaa fate of this team. It's nice that Simmons played better defense last night--but I fear that her, Massengale and Spani simply aren't good enough defensively, aren't tough enough defensively to win a big game. I couldn't get over how absurdly bad they were against notre dame.

When Ariel defended from a few feet away from her opponent, she didn't give up the drive into the lane. Taber understands she's not quick enough to guard closely, but last night was burned for open 3's when she dropped back into lane coverage because the guards had been beaten. Smarter defense can help compensate for physical limitations.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

This team must run to beat superior half-court bb teams. Until UT gets this drubbed into their heads Notre Dame, UCONN, Baylor and Stanford will continue to beat the LV's. I watched a very slow footed Irish team grind out a win because UT wouldn't utilize their quickness/speed advantage. Holly needs to get the LV's running as their primary offense, not secondary..

Volinflan writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Somewhat surprised to hear that from you and OCV. I was able to see the whole game on utsports.com, and I have often had problems with online streams. I couldn't really see what happened to JJ, but she may have bumped her nose on somebody's head. Painful but hopefully not serious.

Moore and Phillips played about 10 minutes or so each, though neither particularly distinguished herself. The LVs were generally a bit sloppy at the end with most of the starters on the bench.

I think I have heard that Cierra is a broadcast major. I agree that she has a promising future in that career. She is also smart and charismatic enough to be a great coach if she decides to go that way. She had a great game last night and I was very happy for her.

Sort of what I thought about the time but - Phillips 3 minutes, JJ 6 minutes and Moore 7 minutes according to the Stats list. I don't know either what happened to JJ but Dearstone was saying she had been fouled, the Refs said she fouled - that sort of thing. I'm not sure how you foul with your head but I guess it's possible (in women's officiated games).

RLL59 writes:

in response to Volinflan:

Sort of what I thought about the time but - Phillips 3 minutes, JJ 6 minutes and Moore 7 minutes according to the Stats list. I don't know either what happened to JJ but Dearstone was saying she had been fouled, the Refs said she fouled - that sort of thing. I'm not sure how you foul with your head but I guess it's possible (in women's officiated games).

I don't think they called a foul on the JJ injury...just a turnover. I have been one who has called for the best 6 or 7 players to get more playing time together, but it seems Holly has taken that a bit far by playing Nia and Jasmine P almost no minutes even after the game is decided.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RLL59:

I don't think they called a foul on the JJ injury...just a turnover. I have been one who has called for the best 6 or 7 players to get more playing time together, but it seems Holly has taken that a bit far by playing Nia and Jasmine P almost no minutes even after the game is decided.

I see the merits of a short rotation for a given game, but there is also a lot to be said for resting starters when a game is in hand and getting other players ready to help if or when they are needed. In women's ball especially, you never know when an important player might go down.

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